Stop Working on Your App Immediately

  • JJ Hornblass
  • June 21, 2016
  • 3

canstockphoto14682831NEW ORLEANS — Banking apps are out.

That’s the word out of Digital Banking 2016 here, where bankers outnumber entrepreneurs (but not vendors).

The mobile banking app traces its roots to SMS banking back in 1999. Since 2012, it has been the fastest growing technology in banking.

But it comes with a cost, a big cost. The apps require updates and maintenance that could cost at least $300,000 per year — and upwards of $1 million for larger apps.

Further, because of the update dynamic, apps don’t fully allow for the type of dynamic experience consumers crave. This is a static platform for a function that shouldn’t be static at all. And with the new deep linking from Google, users will be able to pick and choose the app elements they want anyway — which means all that work creating a seamless app experience will be for naught.

Instead, developers are gravitating to online banking platforms optimized for mobile. A May 31 Financial Brand report noted the near-universality of mobile-optimized sites for the large banks. And just today Yes Bank in India announced a revamped mobile-first website. ProfitStars has had a mobile optimization product for a while, but it has gotten little attention to date.

Optimization for mobile means no more iOS store updates, no more waiting until next quarter to change a feature, and no more forced updates by iOS version changes. It will also mean some loss of control for banks, just as they have finally gotten comfortable with the app environment. In other words, it’s back to the Wild West days of browsers, but within the overall framework of iOS and Android.

This is a positive, overall, though. It will allow for more responsive digital banking, and that is necessary as bankers increasingly focus on the Millennial demographic. There was debate here about how Millennials are said to prefer banking with technology brands. But here’s how one entrepreneur, Andrew Sharpe, the Chief Product Officer at Maxwell Forest, the developer of fintech products and services, rightly responded to that argument:

I keep on hearing this.  I think it is something deeper than just the ‘brand’ associations.

What Google and Amazon do fantastically well is have a tacit agreement with the consumer.  They suck up huge amounts of data from the customer and then use it to provide value to the customer (e.g. better Google Maps suggestions, or with Amazon, recommendations on a specific product).  Millennials realize this and are willing to have that agreement.

Banks, we know, suck up huge amounts of data but don’t do anything with it.

I don’t think it is a brand thing, I think it is the Millennial is aware they are not being given a fair trade with their bank. Indeed, what they are asking for is a bank to provide a Google-like service … or have Google apply their systems on banking.

Optimized for mobile sites allow for more Google-like services, and should save banks a few dollars, too. It just makes sense.

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JJ started the first iteration of Bank Innovation back in 2007, and has been working on it ever since. He also serves as President & Chief Executive Officer of Royal Media, Bank Innovation’s parent. He founded Royal in 1995 and oversees all aspects of the New York-based diversified media company. Prior to forming Royal, JJ was on the editorial staff of American Banker, the daily newspaper, and worked as an editor of a business magazine in Hong Kong. As a reporter and editor, he has won journalism awards from the National Press Foundation, Newsletter & Electronic Publishers Foundation, and the Reader’s Digest Foundation. He has a BS in Economics from Yeshiva University and a Master’s from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. He was also a Fellow at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Graduate School of Banking. He lives in New York City with his wife, two daughters, and son. He counts among his accomplishments one New York City Marathon, two New York City Triathlons and the 2010 Father’s Day 5K, the first race he ever ran with his daughters. He can be reached at or 212-564-8972.

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3 thoughts on “Stop Working on Your App Immediately

  1. Is this article a joke or what? No arguments, no figures… Maybe just a personal feeling? If so, it shouldn’t be posted here.

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